|Pisa train at Lucca station|
|Outline of Lucca ramparts - X marks De Cervesia, P marks Mara Meo Pizzeria|
|Borgo gate / Porta dei Borghi|
|De Cervesia - closed in the morning|
On the other side of Via Michele Rosi is Ciclo DiVino a unit that looks like a bicycle shop but which is actually a wine bar.
Even in January, the street outside De Cervesia is lively in the evening with customers of the two establishments socialising in the shared space.
1st visit to De Cervesia, Tuesday 14 January 2014
Staying in Lucca on my own, I was keen to visit De Cervesia on my first night in the city. Even with the address, I discovered that not all streets have signs so it took a few wrong turns before I located De Cervesia, near Borgo gate.
|Matteo in front of the bar at De Cervesia|
De Cervesia is described as a beer shop but there is a bar and a few bar stools. These were occupied when I arrived so I stood at the bar until a stool became available. Matteo gave me a friendly welcome and a chance to taste a draught beer before ordering. I liked the taste of Gaina so was happy to order a full glass, at a cost of 3 euros.
|Gaina - Birrificio Lambrate|
Gaina, a well hopped IPA (6% ABV) is brewed by Birrificio Lambrate, Milan. This brewery was founded in 1996 and has both a brewpub and a pub near to Milan's Lambrate station.
|Full bottle of Gaina next to glass containing draught Gaina|
I gave Matteo a copy of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine. Matteo mentioned that he used to stock bottled beers from Brewdog and St Peter's Brewery but now De Cervesia serves only Italian beers.
There is a chilled beer display on the wall behind the bar. Matteo stocks beers from the Italian breweries he rates as the best including several from the Lucca region. The beers on the left hand side of the top shelf with coloured collars are from Birrificio Brùton, San Cassiano di Moriano which is located beside the river Serchio, about 5 miles north east of Lucca. The bottles in the centre of the top shelf are from Birrificio La Petrognola, based in Colognola, near the source of the river Serchio, about 30 miles north of Lucca.
Unlike the UK, few Italian beer bottles are 50cl size. Matteo recommended beers from Birrificio del Forte which are supplied in 75cl bottles. The brewery is based in Pietrasanta, near the Mediterranean coast, about 15 miles north west of Lucca.
The two other breweries from the province of Lucca which Matteo mentioned are Birroir Birrificio Artigianale and Birrificio degli Archi.
|Extraomnes - Zest|
Matteo especially recommended the bottled beers from Extraomnes and he took a 33cl bottle of Zest from the middle of the lower shelf and carefully poured it for me. This bottle cost 5 euro, the same price as bottles from Brùton but more expensive than Petrognola (4 euro). The brewery is located in Marmate, about 20 miles north west of Milan. The brewer, Luigi D’Amelio, won the title of '2013 Brewer of the Year', from the Fermento Birra network. The well hopped beer (5.3% ABV) has a bitter finish, spicy and fruity flavours. Matteo kindly translated the tasting notes that mentioned hints of gooseberry, nectarine and lychee.
When Matteo was not busy serving beer, collecting empty glasses or chatting with customers, he found time to change the music and it was nice to discover some music from Italy including the Supersantos album by Mannarino.
The permanently open door to the street meant that it was not very warm inside De Cervesia but at least it was now possible for me to sit down on a bar stool after a seated customer left.
My third and final beer of the night would be from the other draught tap which was dispensing Brighella, a Christmas beer from Birrificio Lambrate.
This 8% ABV Belgian style beer had a sweeter taste than the previous beers and also provided some warmth to counter the breeze through the doorway!
Before leaving I paid my tab of 11 euros and asked Matteo if he could recommend any local pizza restaurants.
|Mara Meo Pizzeria - Piazza San Francesco|
The first one he suggested, Bella 'Mbriana, opposite the youth hostel in nearby Via della Cavallerizza, turned out to be closed for a holiday period but Mara Meo in Piazza San Francesco, on the way to my B&B, was a friendly and cosy place to stop for an economical meal.